Levy County, Dixie County - Forgotten?
This generation of Floridians may not recognize these Gulf coast hugging counties as you enter the panhandle of Florida. History will recount that at one time this area was one of the major shipping centers of wood and and cypress in the 19th century. In fact, for decades most of the cedar for pencils came from the Cedar Keys along the coast of Levy County. Just after the Civil War these counties hosted the west end of a now defunct railroad line originating in Fernandina Beach north of Jacksonville.
Separating Dixie and Levy counties is one of the most famous rivers in the world, the Suwanee River. Songs have been written about the Suwannee and history documents the days of paddle boats that once cruised the river with passengers and goods needed by early settlers.
History Didn’t Forget Levy & Dixie Counties
Levy County’s most famous city is Cedar Key. This waterfront community is one of the leaders in the state of Florida successfully using aquaculture to produce clams and oysters. Cedar Key has a quaint shopping and eating complex built right over the bay. There are several restaurants that serve the harvested clams and oysters literally just hours from the water.
Just a few minutes north, again just off Rt. 19, is Fanning Springs. This state park is known for the beautiful bluish-green clear water flowing at a rate of 65 million gallons per day from the spring. For those who like primitive camping and hiking, there is plenty of that available here. For photographers, there are few better places to get some shots of the wildlife and growth around the springs. For thousands of years native Americans visiting this area due to the abundance of water and wildlife for survival.
We cannot forget about Yankeetown, Florida in Levy County. This town with just a few hundred people was founded at the mouth of the Withlacoochee River. There may be more small boats for fishing the flats around Yankeetown than there are people.
Separating Levy County and Dixie County is the beautiful Suwannee River. This 200 plus mile long river originates in Georgia and meanders through Florida and empties into the Gulf.
Another river just to the north is the Steinhatchee River. At the mouth of the river is a town with the same name, Steinhatchee (pronounced steen-hat-chee). This is an active fishing resort town with a number of restaurants and marinas. Fun to visit.
Communities Along the Gulf Have Great Water Sports Opportunities
The county seat of Dixie County is Cross City. This is the beginning of “cracker” country. In Florida, the name cracker has several rumored originations. One of which is reference to people living in north Florida who were “lawless rascals living in the back country”. While this may have been true a couple centuries ago, today we know that some of the best country cooking comes from this area. The Putnam Lodge Restaurant and the Cypress Inn in Cross City will plate food that will warm your stomach and soul!
Dixie County has another dubious distinction. Reports are that the St. Petersburg Times called Dixie County the” most corrupt… in Florida”. We aren’t sure about that claim, but there is some good fireside reading about the various stings of public officials and drug smuggling offenders. The stories will keep you busy one evening with plenty of fodder from the Internet.
Horseshoe Beach is another remote Florida park and beach just southwest of Cross City in Dixie County. The development in this Gulf coast area has produced some exceptional waterfront homes.
Being no more than three hours from the Tampa/Clearwater area, less than two hours from Tallahassee, and no more than two hours from the Villages, The nature rich areas around Dixie and Levy counties make exception day trips or “one nighter’s”! A waterfront room at Cedar Key is an exceptional way to end the day.
Restaurant seating is inside with air conditioned comfort if you prefer a more formal atmosphere.